Singapore/Tokyo: The country’s biggest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, surpassed its parent Suzuki Motor Corp. (SMC) of Japan in sales in their respective home markets for the first time, as rising incomes in India boosted demand.

Maruti sold 336,758 cars, vans and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in the domestic market between April and September, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said. That exceeded the preliminary 315,000 vehicles SMC sold in Japan in the same period, said company spokesman Takuma Mizuyoshi.

SMC and other car makers plan to spend more than $6 billion (Rs23,580 crore) on new factories to meet surging demand for cars in India, the world’s second fastest growing major economy. The overseas expansion is meant to compensate for slowing demand in Japan. “This is significant and it’s a pointer to other companies on what potential India holds for the future," said K.K. Mital, who manages Rs7,074 crore of stocks at Escorts Asset Management Ltd in New Delhi. “Car ownership is still very low in India and companies will look to this market as sales shrink in their own home markets," he added.

Maruti shares have gained 19% so far this year on the Mumbai bourse, against a 7.1% gain for SMC in Japan. SMC owns 54% of Maruti, with whom it started a partnership in 1982.